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Newbie checks back in; needs more input/advice


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Before I go any further, this is me: Newbie needs advice

So...I signed up for the small studio/local class, and I started glazing my pieces today. I'm utterly confused by the studio owner's policy on glazing. From the beginning, I had asked about underglazes. No, I never came out and said, I would like to use underglazes. But I think I asked enough questions to indicate my interest. I made a number of small non-functional items, and I wanted to use underglaze on most of them. Today, she said I couldn't--that they were for her children's classes only. When I saw the glazes we are allowed to use, I wanted to cry. There were, like, four shades of brown, two of green, one of blue (if you put it on lightly enough). I thought they were, in a word, ugly. Sorry if I am offending anyone who likes those colors! ;)  I'm kind of a blue-green-turquoise gal. Anyway, the bottles all said "wash" on them. I did see a few jugs of Amaco Potter's Choice around. And I know she fires to Cone 6 in an electric kiln, but these glazes are supposed to give the pottery the look of having been fired in a gas kiln.

I am so new to this, I have no idea what she is talking about. I don't understand why I can't use the underglazes and have my stuff fired with the kids' stuff. I guess I could have asked, but I didn't. I was pretty upset. I'm not sure I want to go back for another round of classes. But the pickings are slim here (see my original post).

Can anybody explain this to me in plain terms? Thank you so much.

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sounds like you need to find another place to learn.   something i learned early on is to find a teacher whose work you at least respect even if it is not what you would like to make yourself. your own home might be the best classroom in your circumstances.   there are so many ways to learn that i am unable to suggest anything more definite than decide what way you learn best and try it.   that could be books to read, videos to watch,  a magazine called Pottery making illustrated  and one that i think is still being published Clay Times.   lots of potters are self-taught, not everyone goes to a college and earns a degree.

lots of people who are seriously interested in learning something new just do it.   maybe you can too.

if you continue in the "class" you have attended, why not buy some underglaze for your own use?   if you are serious, you will need tools of your own and underglaze is just another tool.  

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1 minute ago, oldlady said:

sounds like you need to find another place to learn.   something i learned early on is to find a teacher whose work you at least respect even if it is not what you would like to make yourself. your own home might be the best classroom in your circumstances.   there are so many ways to learn that i am unable to suggest anything more definite than decide what way you learn best and try it.   that could be books to read, videos to watch,  a magazine called Pottery making illustrated  and one that i think is still being published Clay Times.   lots of potters are self-taught, not everyone goes to a college and earns a degree.

lots of people who are seriously interested in learning something new just do it.   maybe you can too.

if you continue in the "class" you have attended, why not buy some underglaze for your own use?   if you are serious, you will need tools of your own and underglaze is just another tool.  

The thing is, I don't think we're allowed to bring anything in from outside. I will have to ask about that, though.

I'm all for learning on my own, but I wasn't sure I was quite ready for an open studio yet. Thank goodness there are videos! I will check out those magazines.

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12 hours ago, oldlady said:

if you continue in the "class" you have attended, why not buy some underglaze for your own use?   if you are serious, you will need tools of your own and underglaze is just another tool.  

I would do that also.  At least ask.  In fact, that is what I did.  I bought my own glazes because I wanted more than 4 shades of brown.  I can't remember if you signed up for a period of time or how it is structured, but as @oldlady said, there are so many ways to learn.  Don't give up and find a role model closer to your aesthetic.

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Perhaps the kids work is made from low fire clay and she had you using cone 6 clay. It is quite common to use lowfire clay for kids work. It could just be that she doesn't know if the underglazes will work at cone 6 and / or she doesn't have a cone 6 clear glaze to use over top of them. 

I would go back to her and ask if you could at least try the underglazes and have your work fired with the kids work. If you have cone 6 clay it will be underfired at lowfire (if that is indeed what she fires the kids work to) but if you are only making decorative work it would be better than nothing.

I agree with the others who said if possible find another place to work out of. 

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4 hours ago, Roberta12 said:

I would do that also.  At least ask.  In fact, that is what I did.  I bought my own glazes because I wanted more than 4 shades of brown.  I can't remember if you signed up for a period of time or how it is structured, but as @oldlady said, there are so many ways to learn.  Don't give up and find a role model closer to your aesthetic.

We're at the end of the class sessions. The next session begins in two weeks.

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50 minutes ago, Min said:

Perhaps the kids work is made from low fire clay and she had you using cone 6 clay. It is quite common to use lowfire clay for kids work. It could just be that she doesn't know if the underglazes will work at cone 6 and / or she doesn't have a cone 6 clear glaze to use over top of them. 

I would go back to her and ask if you could at least try the underglazes and have your work fired with the kids work. If you have cone 6 clay it will be underfired at lowfire (if that is indeed what she fires the kids work to) but if you are only making decorative work it would be better than nothing.

I agree with the others who said if possible find another place to work out of. 

The clay itself is a mystery to me. I've never seen it come out of a box. She has a huge plastic bin next to the pug mill, and all the clay comes from there. I don't know much about pug mills, but from my limited POV, it looks like I'm getting recycled clay to work with. I"m not sure if there's an advantage to that. I have had pottery classes at 3 different places, and every time, I got a brand new box of clay.

I'm trying to find somewhere else. Other places are at least 1 hour away, but I'm a-trying!

 

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19 hours ago, ladyinblack1964 said:

looks like I'm getting recycled clay to work with. I"m not sure if there's an advantage to tha

There are two advantages to using recycled clay: cost and waste.

At the centre where I volunteer we use both.  Which one gets handed out usually depends on moisture content and proposed use - slab, coiling, pinch, throwing.  Also how busy I have been, and how much waste clay the rest of the group have produced.

If we didn't recycle the clay, our costs would go up, and we'd have to charge more.  Some potters create a lot of waste, they forget to keep the spare clay covered, or they let something dry too much, or they break it at greenware stage.  I often prefer the re-cycled stuff, I have more control over it's moisture content, I can let it dry a few more minutes to get it just right.  Out of the bag it is how it is.

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Sounds like you are nIt comfortable in that place of learnIng.

There are usually good reasons that teachers have certain practices which govern their studios. 

Get the techniques etc from your teacher, and knowledge of claywork  by which time you may be ready to invest in a small kiln etc of your own. 

Imagine a class of 10 to 20 students all wanting to pursue different paths in ceramics. I wouldn't want to a. Be in that class or b.  teach it.

 

 

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If you note the detail and technical info in all the above responses, you will see that claywork is not intended to be a quick and easy process that will require very little proper training and education.  Some of the community studio rental/fee-based spaces are not designed to provide correct and comprehensive ceramics instruction. As a business, they are offering  a somewhat limited opportunity to make things and get them fired, usually with a number of restrictions necessary to accommodate highly varied groups and levels of expertise.  Some owners (reasonably) don't want to provide their customers with a free education and hours of instruction that may have cost them thousands of dollars and many years to learn for themselves.  Becoming proficient with the chemistry and other ins & outs of claywork takes time, money, lots of trial & error, a hefty dose of pain of some sort (guaranteed) and ideally, one's own kiln and studio space.  That doesn't have to be fancy if you are not into volume/production/a commercial livelihood. Mine is in an unused bedroom w/a kiln on the back porch. Being able to control my clay, glazes, firing schedule/type makes all the difference in the world. My area did not have a community studio adequate for my purposes. If you are serious about ceramics, don't settle.  But if you can't or don't want to make the investment (time/money) that is actually required, then either accept/adapt to what you do have access to, or perhaps find another creative  outlet that is more realistic. Not trying to sound discouraging-just pragmatic.

Edited by LeeU
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